Joanne Parrent at No Quarter must have been listening in to a conversation with one of my sisters:
When I asked my sister why she didn’t want to vote for the first viable female candidate for President – and a brilliant person as well – she told me that she “hates” Hillary Clinton. Stunned at the intensity of her feelings, I asked her “Why?” She proceeded to give me some reasons that I found startlingly similar to the Obama campaign talking points:
1. Sister: Hillary voted for the war in Iraq.
Me: Actually, she voted to give the President the authorization to go to war so the threat of war would force Saddam Hussein to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq, which it did. Bush, not Hillary, then decided to stop those inspections before they were done and invade Iraq. (I sent her an article in the Huffington Post by anti-war activist, former Ambassador and husband of Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, about this. Joseph Wilson, Huffington Post)
Sister: I don’t have time for this. She still voted for the war, and Obama was against the war.
Me: Obama didn’t have to make that tough decision. He wasn’t in the Senate. He wasn’t representing the state of New York that had been devastated on 9/11. He just gave a speech at an anti-war rally in Chicago, in his very safe, very liberal State Senate District. How much courage did that take?
Sister: Look, I’m inspired by Obama. Democrats have the right to be inspired too, you know.
Me: Okay, you like the guy. I am not crazy about him, myself. He seems like a snake oil salesman, selling hope and change. But I don’t “hate” him, and you still haven’t answered my question about why you “hate” Hillary.
2. Sister: Hillary is just like Bill Clinton. She’s too moderate and they both “triangulate”. We don’t need another Clinton. I’m tired of Bushes and Clintons. We need something new. (To her credit she didn’t use the epithet “Billary” which may have been too sexist for her. Or she may have just been embarrassed to say that to me.)
Me: Have you seen Hillary’s policy proposals? They are very similar to Obama’s. In some cases, particularly her health care proposal, they are more progressive than his. (I sent her one of economist Paul Krugman’s articles from the New York Times on why Hillary’s health care plan which will cover everyone is better than Obama’s, which will only cover children. )
Sister: Who has time to read all of these things? Politicians never do them anyway. He inspires people. That’s what we need in a President. I’m going to lose my job if you don’t quit writing all these emails and sending me all these articles.
Me: I am just trying to find out why you “hate” Hillary so much?
3. Sister: Hillary Clinton will do anything to get elected. She’s running a negative campaign.
Me: Can’t you see that that is just code for she’s an ambitious, ball-busting bitch?! What kind of sexist double standard is that? Hillary has paid her dues. She didn’t run for President in 2004 after only four years in the Senate. She waited until 2008 after being elected by the state of New York with a huge majority to a second term.
What is astonishing about what the Obama campaign has accomplished is that it has built so much of its support on this sexist, negative and inaccurate portrayal of Hillary Clinton, while at the same time successfully spreading the myth that it is the Clinton campaign that is negative. And the Obama campaign couldn’t have done this without the willing participation of Obama, himself, which belies the claim that he is a “unifying” figure and that he practices “new politics”, let alone that he brings people together. In fact, he is bringing people to his campaign by scapegoating and demonizing the “other” – the old, traditional, divisive, bitchy, lying, politics-as-usual Hillary Clinton.
Yet, in reality, Hillary is not only not traditional: she is, in fact, a very unusual figure in American politics – a First Lady who became a Senator and then ran for President. How many of those have we had? She also is not only not divisive but she has shown, as a Senator, that she can work with people who hated her and her husband when he was President.
She has healed relationships that one would expect could never be healed.
Women across the country are working their hearts out for Hillary, not only because they want to see this brilliant woman become the first woman President, but because they are furious at the ugly misogyny coming from the Obama camp. (read the rest: it’s great)
Thanks for writing this, Joanne. I really miss talking politics with all my sisters. But I feel a little better knowing that I’m not alone in this experience.